Haru Storylines, Day 12

Three days remain in the exciting Haru basho, and with apologies to Bruce, almost everything of consequence has yet to be decided. Here are the storylines to follow in the closing days.

The Yusho Race

Yokozuna Hakuho leads with a 12-0 record. Tomorrow, he faces one of his pursuers, Ozeki Goeido (10-2). His remaining two bouts should be against the other 10-2 Ozeki, Takayasu, and his fellow Yokozuna, Kakuryu (9-3).

M4 Ichinojo (11-1) remained one off the pace with a dominating victory over Asanoyama. His degree of difficulty goes up tomorrow with a bout against Komusubi Mitakeumi (5-7), who leads the head-to-head 6-3. Mitakeumi is a challenging opponent even at less than 100%, although if Ichinojo maintains his current form, he should prevail. I am guessing that we will see Ichinojo matched with Takakeisho on Saturday. The options for his final opponent include Tamawashi, Hokutofuji, and Kotoshogiku.

Only Kakuryu fell out of the 10-2 hunt group today, leaving 4 two-off-the-pace pursuers: Takayasu, Goeido, M7 Aoiyama and M8 Kotoshogiku.

Kadoban Ozeki Tochinoshin

Tochinoshin was unable to record a second career win against Hakuho, and his record stands even at 6-6, leaving him two victories short of the required 8. His remaining three bouts should be against Kakuryu, Tamawashi, and Takakeisho, with the last of these possibly deciding which of them will be Ozeki in May.

Takakeisho’s Ozeki Run

Takakeisho could not avenge his promotion-denying loss to Goeido at Hatsu, and fell to 8-4. Like Tochinoshin, he also needs 2 wins from 4 bouts to be Ozeki in May. He will try to break his two-bout losing streak tomorrow when he faces Takayasu, who leads the head-to-head 6-2. This is likely to be followed by a bout against a rampaging Ichinojo, and, if Takakeisho splits the next two matches, a potential winner-take-all clash with Tochinoshin on senshuraku.

The San’yaku Ranks

Remarkably, with only three days remaining, the number of open San’yaku slots could still mathematically range from zero to four. The zero slot scenario: Takakeisho fails to be promoted, Tochinoshin is demoted, and the duo occupies the two Sekiwake slots. Tamawashi (5-7) goes 2-1 and drops to Komusubi, while Mitakeumi wins out and defends his rank. The four slot scenario: Tochinoshin clears kadoban, Takakeisho becomes Ozeki, Tamawashi loses more than one bout, and Mitakeumi picks up a loss. Of course, in all likelihood, we’ll end up somewhere in between.

Ichinojo has all but locked up the number one spot in the promotion queue; only Aoiyama has a slim chance of catching him. The other best-positioned contenders are Kotoshogiku and Daieisho (M2, 6-6) should the latter be able to reach kachi-koshi.

The Makuuchi <-> Juryo Exchange

This will be interesting, as with three days to go, quite a few Makuuchi rikishi have not done enough to avoid demotion territory, while the list of promotion candidates in Juryo is rather slim. Even with some over-promotions, a number of top-division rikishi may be thanking their lucky stars come banzuke day.

Dropping out of the top division: Chiyonokuni. Taking his spot: Shimanoumi (J1e, 10-2).

Already failed to do enough to avoid demotion, and must hope for a lot of banzuke luck: Yutakayama (M16w, 3-9).

Already right on the bubble, cannot afford any more losses, and might face demotion despite winning out: Toyonoshima (M14w, 3-9), Terutsuyoshi (M14e, 3-9).

Probably need to win out to be safe: Ikioi (M9w, 1-11), Daishoho (M16e, 5-7).

Needs two wins to be safe: Chiyoshoma (M17e, 6-6).

Still need a win for mathematical safety, but may be okay anyway given the long list of those in worse shape: Kotoeko, Ishiura, Sadanoumi, Yago.

Chiyomaru (J1w, 8-4) will be the second Juryo man to go up, and his many fans will be happy to see round boi make a comeback. Enho (J2w, 7-5) took a step closer to promotion, and one more win might do it, given the sorry state of lower Makuuchi. The only other remaining realistic promotion candidate is Tokushoryu (J4w, 7-5), although someone else could get lucky with a record not usually good enough to warrant a jump to the top division.

18 thoughts on “Haru Storylines, Day 12

  1. too bad there aren’t more juryo candidates positioned to move up
    it would be fun to see a massive swap all at once

    wonder what the most changed out in a single go in modern era is?
    the stats guys must know

    for ichinojo, of those named here i see only tamawashi as really able (and highly unlikely) to contend,
    hakuho can safely drop one to kakuryu without upsetting the apple cart, putting ichi’ cup in reach

    would love to see that
    for now, looking like 50/50 odds between champ and ichi

    icing on the cake would be a l’il ‘keisho fail; he’s not close to ripe enough for ozeki
    the hakuho demonstration match highlighted his actual level (sans hype)

    • The most promotions in the modern era was a whopping 9, after Nagoya 2010. There was a whole bunch of absences in Makuuchi, not sure what happened, plus one guy retired.

    • Looks like the record in normal times in 7, which happened a few times, most recently after Haru 2014, when Kotooshu retired and 6 guys were demoted.

  2. Fair enough, but perhaps my comment reflected my outlook that not much will change.

    1. Tochinoshin defends his rank
    2. Takakeisho falls short of 10 wins
    3. Hakuho goes zensho
    4. The Maku-Juryo line cleans itself up with 2 up and 2 down.

    I try not to put stuff like that in main postings, as it seems to be troll bait. But thank you very much for opening the door for me to add it to your post as a comment. Truly appreciated.

    • I appreciate your points (and posts, as always!). To my mind, these are all yet to be decided, as well as the composition of lower san’yaku. I’d say the first two are 50-50 propositions, and could come down to their match on senshuraku, which will add a lot of excitement especially if the yusho has been decided by then. Personally, I’m pulling for both to get their 2 wins, and for Enho and Tokoshoryu to make it 4 up, as there’s a whole bunch of guys in the top division who don’t deserve to be there based on performance.

    • I truly don’t think Tochinoshin will be able to hold his rank. As much as I love the big bear I’m not truly sure if his knees can handle it at this point.
      I’m praying to unknown Gods that Goeido can somehow put dirt on Hakuho because BOY would I love to see my man Ichinojo Pony Tosser Supreme in a playoff!

  3. Ikioi…winning out. Somehow this doesn’t seem likely this time 🙁 . If he wins out can we treat him to a luxury all-expenses-paid trip to a doctor? Please?

    • Considering that he has been visiting the hospital twice a day every day of this basho, I don’t think that prize will impress him much. But maybe if you buy him a barrel full of antibiotics for his cellulitis he might be happier.

    • I expect someone to be ready with a dust pan on the last day of the basho to sweep up poor Ikioi. Did he not learn ANYTHING from the Kisenosato instance? If you’re broken then fix it and take the time needed to heal properly or you’re going to end up seriously destroying your career. I feel for him, I want him to get better.

  4. I think demoted Ozeki open up a third sekiwake slot, so I don’t think that zero slot scenario can happen.

    • Based on past precedent, it looks like the third slot only opens when both incumbent Sekiwake go kachi-koshi (this happened when Terunofuji was demoted) or one slot opens and a Komusubi has a strong promotion claim (this happened when Kotoshogiku was demoted and Takayasu went 11-4 at Komusubi). For the 3 Ozeki demotions prior to that, one Sekiwake slot opened and was filled by the demoted Ozeki, with only two Sekiwake on next banzuke. So unless Takakeisho fails to get promoted AND Tamawashi holds on to his rank, Tochinoshin’s demotion should leave us with 2 Sekiwake, not 3.

  5. Bonus point yusho race day 12: Hakuho 18, Goeido 14, Ichinojo 12, Ryuden 11, Aoiyama 11. Still much to play for!

  6. I give Mitakeumi 50/50 odds that even with 8 losses he is only demoted to K1W, if Takakeisho gets his promotion or Tochinoshin defends his rank. If Tamawashi goes at least 6-9 then in the above scenario I give it 75% odd’s.

    Ichinojo will go up to Sekiwake. The main question is how high will they promote Aoiyama. If K1E is open, I predict he will get that. If 2 Sekiwake spots are open, then Aoiyama will get S1W.

    Daieisho is the main spoiler. If he manages a KK with quality sumo, then they will give him the nod. Bad sumo and he is M1E.

    If there were more credible promotion candidates then Mitakeumi would be toast. Fortunately for him, there are only 2 (with a 3rd as an iffy maybe).

    Coming back injured and putting out the level of sumo he has, will get him a lot of brownie points from the Banzuki makers.

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